Program

Sep 30, 2009

OVERVIEW

Skills for Academic and Social
Success (SASS) is a cognitive-behavioral school-based program designed to reduce
children’s anxiety through group meetings and social events. A random
assignment evaluation of this program showed a significant reduction in anxiety
and social avoidance.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Socially
anxious youth

Skills for Academic and Social
Success (SASS) is a cognitive-behavioral school-based program designed to reduce
children’s anxiety. SASS consists of 12, 40-minute weekly group sessions, two
booster sessions, two 15-minute individual meetings, four weekend social events
with prosocial peers, two 45-minute parent group meetings, and two 45-minute
teacher meetings. In total, the program lasts for three months.

Group sessions cover five
components: psychoeducation, realistic thinking, social skills training,
exposure, and relapse prevention.

·Psychoeducation is addressed in the first group session where
group leaders discuss commonly feared social situations and cognitive, somatic,
and behavioral symptoms of social anxiety with the youth.

·In the second group session, realistic thinking is the focus as
group leaders discuss the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behavior
and overestimating negative outcomes.

·Social skills training takes place over four group sessions
emphasizing initiating conversations, maintaining conversations and establishing
friendships, listening and remembering, and assertiveness through role
discussion and role-play.

During the exposure component, group leaders address the need for
exposure to situations. Students develop a Fear Hierarchy of avoided
situations. During each exposure session, group leaders select items from the
Fear Hierarchy to gradually address the youth’s fear. After the session, the
youth discuss the experience and are provided feedback.

Relapse prevention is the final session, and in it group leaders
prepare youth for potential setbacks. Booster sessions, where youth progress is
monitored, occur monthly for two months after the group sessions.

During the two individual meetings
with the group leaders, youth can discuss goals and issues that interfere with
progress. The four social events are intended to be fun activities (bowling,
picnic, etc.) to provide youth an opportunity to practice social skills. The
social events are aided by teacher-nominated students (peer assistants) who have
exhibited helpful, friendly, and/or kind behavior. Peer assistants create a
positive experience during the social event as well as helping the youth
practice their skills during the week. Parent meetings include information
about symptoms, psychoeducation, common reactions, and encouragement to refrain
from being excessively reassuring to their child and allowing them to avoid
situations. Teacher meetings include education about social anxiety,
collaboration on areas of social difficulty, and progress feedback.

In 2008, SASS was available for
families at the NYU Child Study Center for $1,600, with negotiable fees for
families with limited means.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Masia-Warner, C., Klein, R. G., Dent, H. C., Fisher, P. H., Alvir, J., Albano,
A. M., & Guardino, M. (2005). School-based intervention for adolescents with
social anxiety disorder: Results of a controlled study. Journal of Abnormal
Child Psychology
, 33(6), 707-722.

Evaluated
Population: 
Thirty-five socially anxious adolescents
in grades 9 through 11 from two parochial high schools in New York, NY
participated in this study. 74% of the sample was female, 83% of the sample was
white, and the mean age was 14.8 years.

Approach: Students were randomly assigned to theSkills for
Academic and Social Success (SASS) intervention (n = 18) or to a
wait-list control group (n = 17). Students were assessed at pre-test and
post-test on anxiety and mood disorders, social phobic disorders, depression,
and loneliness through observer-, parent-, and self-report.

Results: At post-test, treatment group students had
significantly lower observer-rated anxiety disorders (very large effect size of
2.4), social phobic disorder (very large effect size of 2), social anxiety
(large effect size of 0.77), and total functioning (very large effect size of
2.3) when compared with control group students. Treatment group students also
had significantly lower self-reported social avoidance and distress (large
effect size of 0.79) when compared with control group students. Treatment
group students had significantly lower parent-reported social avoidance and
distress (large effect size of 0.82) when compared with control group students.
There was no impact on parent-reported fear of negative evaluation. There was no
impact on self-reported social phobia and anxiety, social anxiety, fear of
negative evaluation, depression, or loneliness.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Fisher, P.
H., Masia-Warner, C., & Klein, R. G. (2004). Skills for Social and Academic
Success: A school-based intervention for social anxiety disorder in adolescents.
Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 7(4), 241-249.

Masia-Warner, C., Klein, R. G., Dent, H. C., Fisher, P. H., Alvir, J., Albano,
A. M., & Guardino, M. (2005). School-based intervention for adolescents with
social anxiety disorder: Results of a controlled study. Journal of Abnormal
Child Psychology
, 33(6), 707-722.

http://www.aboutourkids.org/about_us/staff/research_faculty/carrie_masiawarner

Dr. Carrie Masia-Warner

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

NYU Child Study Center

215 Lexington Avenue, 13th
floor

New York, NY 10016

Email:

carrie.masia@med.nyu.edu

KEYWORDS:
adolescents, high school, co-ed, white/Caucasian, urban, school-based,
self-efficacy, counseling/therapy, anxiety disorders/symptoms, phobia,
depression/mood disorders, self-esteem, social skills, cost

Program
information last updated on 9/30/09.

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